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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Suchitoto, Ahoy!

EL SALVADOR | Monday, 6 February 2012 | Views [1362]

Erick woke me early as he was getting ready for work. Christian was getting out on his bicycle toward San Miguel and I'd be setting out toward Suchitoto. After having breakfast, Erick left for work and then Christian had all his stuff packed and set out south. I figured I'd see him shortly because I'd be on the side of the road with my thumb out. After saying goodbye to Erick's mother I got a lift, but for some reason I didn't see Christian. He probably called in at a store or someplace. El Salvador looks huge on a map but it's really not that big. In fact it's the smallest country in Central America. In the back of a truck I got to San Francisco Gotera. The main route to the Interamericana leads to San Miguel but I didn't want to get stuck there and figure out how to get to the outskirts, so I opted for the less-trafficked road leading to the unpronounceable town of Guatajiagua. Much like Kirkjubaerclaustur in Iceland, it's one of those towns that requires lots of tongue practice, if it hasn't tied your tongue up in knots already. After an ice cream and a cold water get a lift after I'm dropped off in Guatajiagua, which is known for its intricate black pottery. From the back of the truck I photographed an innocent-looking sweet little girl in front of a blue door. From a distance I got a great photo of some Salvadoreno cowboys.

It was hot, but not too hot as I walked through part of Guatajiagua, past a group of middle school students. If I had more time I'd love to stay for awhile in one of these remote highland towns. After two more rides I was on the Interamericana. Anyone who picked me up would likely be headed to San Salvador, and that's exactly what happened. Three guys in a truck picked me up whilst cruising toward the capital.

Along the way we passed the majestic Volcan de San Vicente. El Salvador is home to long list of volcanoes, and one I'd like to climb is Volcan Izalco, located in the western part of the country. A dozen miles or so outside of San Salvador I was dropped off at the turnoff to Suchitoto. Then I rode in two more pickup trucks to Suchitoto, and when I got there I asked "Is this the centre." The driver enthusiastically replied "yes, see the cathedral."

Suchitoto, ahoy! Boasting a beautiful cathedral and a lot of colour and cobblestone I can see this place is special. It brings back memories of Granada. When I called in at an internet cafe I went online and I called my friend Daniel. And I'll tell you the reason I called him. He's an attorney of about 57 more or less and was paralyzed about 35 years ago whilst mountain climbing. His ex-wife is from Santa Ana and her three children, Ruth, Tina, and Juan (Johnny) were stranded in the midst of the brutal civil war. Despite sitting in a wheelchair he came here on his own and flew them to the U.S. He and his wife divorced years later, and he remarried and raised a son with autism. It's remarkable that Daniel has no children of his own and could have easily lived a life without having to raise any, but he raised four children that weren't his own! I'm still good friends with his oldest daughter Ruth. When Daniel answered the phone I said "take a guess at where I am?" He said "I don't know, where?" and I said "I'm in El Salvador." In shock, he replied "what the hell are you doing there?" When I told him I was travelling around it surprised him. Then when I told him I hitchhiked here from Morazan today he just about fell off his wheelchair! There may have been a violent and bloody civil war here in the 1980s but El Salvador has got to be one of the most peaceful countries I've ever come across! Daniel and I probably talked for close to an hour earlier and he told me to call in at his house when I return to California to show him that I survived El Salvador. My CS host said he was taking people on a tour today and that he'd be back in Suchitoto by early afternoon. With a bit of sleuthing online I found the website for Hostal El Gringo. It turned out it was right up the street about two blocks. Passing a local woman with a large circular basket on her head, I walk with my stuff and my stinky self, and in doing so I recognized Robert as he was talking to someone. He said he had a feeling I was on my way. Robert Broz Moran grew up in California but moved to El Salvador due to his wife and to escape the rat race. He's a colourful character who looks sort of out of place: a big bloke with curly salt & pepper hair and large-framed glasses. El Gringo is a hostel and I had to fill out my passport details and get a key. CouchSurfers get to stay for free. Scribbled on the board was "spare ribs with steak fries: $6." Immediately I was up for that but they wouldn't be starting dinner for several hours, and beforehand I wanted to do some sightseeing before the sun went down. Robert and I chatted about a couple of options for waterfalls: Salto el Cubo and Cascada Los Tercios. When I asked about the latter he said it's an interesting series of basalt columns (remember Svartifoss) but that I should arrange a police escort since there have been a couple of robberies recently. The escort is free and the officers are friendly and courteous and don't even expect tips. Three officers went with me, but first had to drop off a guy who was severely high on something (don't know what). The columns sure are interesting!

Having the police officers proved helpful since they could take photos of me whilst climbing the columns. During the wet season there's a waterfall but more often than not it's dry or with just a trickle. One officer stood at the top of the columns whilst another took my photo from the bottom, and the third waited in the vehicle by the roadside. They seemed to be having fun; it's likely a welcome break from sitting at a desk. Unfortunately I couldn't climb all the way to the top of the columns but I came very close! Definitely one of the more interesting geologic features I've seen on any of my journeys. The police dropped me off back at El Gringo where I chatted with a few other travellers whilst my dinner was being whipped up. A couple having dinner was here for a couple of weeks and taking a Spanish course, and we talked for a couple of hours about our travels. The husband was a lot younger than he looked and his wife was rather interesting. Ribs and steak fries were mighty tasty! Robert had no BBQ sauce but that didn't stop him from improvising with ketchup, honey, and a few shakes of pepper to make a homemade BBQ sauce. This sure was a welcome break from rice and beans! Tonight I was in the mood for splashing out a bit and Robert said "I appreciate the business." The dining room is filled with fine El Salvadorian artwork and is a great place to just chat and while away a few hours in the evening. After dinner and a beer I washed it down with dessert and a cup of coffee. I'm the only person staying in the dorm room so I have the whole room to myself. Robert's son got me a towel so I could have a cool shower. I've had so few hot showers on this trip I've sort of lost count; Costa Rica and Esteli I think are the only places but it doesn't matter. Cold showers are part of travelling and they get the job done just as much as a hot shower, and sometimes it feels even better! 

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